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Transforming data quality assurance: An introduction for providers


HESA takes pride in ensuring that the data it collects is accurate and robust.

Our data quality assurance procedures exist to interrogate data submitted to identify potential anomalies and offer providers the opportunity to improve the quality of their data. Our shared goal is for data that is fit for purpose.

Our shared goal is for data that is fit for purpose.

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Part of our long term strategy is to increase and improve automation to the processes that support our quality assurance. Let me give you a flavour of some of the improvements coming your way in the Student C15051 and Alternative Provider student C15054 collections over the next few months.  

These will include a phased introduction of plain English translations for quality rules. In addition, you can expect to see improvements in the Credibility report such as quality notes that are easier to understand, the eagerly-anticipated facility to drill down into the data and more automated queries on the tables.

We have focused on changes that will make your lives easier without the need for you to review your procedures.

We have focused on changes that will make your lives easier without the need for you to review your procedures.

Our long term vision is a data collection system that is interactive, enabling you the providers to respond to quality issues in a way that is more under your control.

If you attended the Student record post-collection seminars in January, you’ll have heard of our plans and, in the meantime, we’ve been defining requirements and establishing what’s feasible.  A focus group provided valuable input into refining our thoughts, as well as sharing their views on how the changes might impact their current processes. There’s also been engagement with statutory customers who are all supportive of these improvements.

Long-term plans

Long-term plans include:

  • Plain English translations of quality rules and drill-down functionality in Credibility reports extended across all collections.
  • A more flexible approach to show the data in the Credibility report tables that needs your attention.
  • A reclassification of quality rules from errors or warnings to a tolerance approach, whereby a rule will trigger if the tolerance is exceeded.
  • The ability to request a tolerance to suit your individual organisation’s profile.
  • The ability for adjusted tolerances to be agreed for the long term, negating the need to ask for the same switches every year.
  • The decommissioning of Minerva and an alternative means of interaction over quality issues between providers and HESA within the data collection system itself.


Benefits from this work will include:

  • Easier-to-use credibility reports which will provide you with much more detail.
  • Easier-to-understand rules as they’ll be written in plain English. The current rule descriptions will remain as they provide the specific detail you need to identify the causes of the issues.
  • Provision of a single system that contains your submitted data and related quality issues, and also allows you to respond to those issues.
  • Access to your quality issues much earlier in the process as you won’t need to wait for HESA to raise queries through Minerva.
  • Less time waiting around for a response about an issue as queries will be directly routed to the stakeholder, e.g. the appropriate funding council, for approval, and will no longer have to be manually forwarded on by HESA.
  • Only having to provide an explanation once for the tolerance to be adjusted to meet your requirements and the rule will not trigger again into the future unless you exceed that tolerance.

We have already started work behind the scenes on a tolerance approach to quality issues with the intention that this will be in place for some of the 2016/17 collections. This means we can give you plenty of notice about how it will work and how you might take advantage of what it can offer you.

There will be more news on progress over the coming months through blog posts and FAQs. You will also have an opportunity to find out more about the improvements coming over the next few months if you are attending the Student Record Advanced seminars in June.

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Sue Deeley

Head of Data Quality Assurance